SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health, has expressed his full support for Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri’s suggestion to establish an endowment fund for cancer-stricken overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
This initiative is in memory of the late Migrant Workers secretary Ma. Susana “Toots” Ople, who was a staunch advocate for the welfare of OFWs and who passed away recently while battling breast cancer.
Meanwhile, Go’s support for the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) represents a sustained commitment, building upon his previous efforts to strengthen the fund. During the budget deliberations for the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA), Go was instrumental in securing a P500 million allocation for CAF under the Department of Health.
Initially, the proposed budget for 2023 had no allocation for the Cancer Assistance fund. However, both the House of Representatives and the Senate managed to add substantial amounts to fund the program, thanks to the collective efforts of lawmakers.
“I am always one with you in the fight against this disease,” Go said.
“In fact, during the budget deliberations last year, I pushed for an additional budget for the cancer assistance fund to subsidize the cost of cancer treatment, including the needed diagnostics and laboratory tests,” he added.
Looking ahead to 2024, Go aims to double the current allocation to further strengthen the fund and extend help to more cancer patients. This is in line with the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA), under Republic Act No. 11215, which includes CAF as an essential component.
Section 20 of NICCA ensures that cancer patients have access to free financial assistance for various needs, including screening tests, specialized treatments, diagnosis, palliative care, and medications.
Beyond CAF, Go has also been a driving force behind the recently signed RA 11959, or the Regional Specialty Centers (RSC) Act, which he principally sponsored and of which he is one of the authors in the Senate.
The newly enacted law aims to create additional specialty centers in various regions, including cancer centers, thereby ensuring that Filipinos have access to specialized medical services without the need to travel to Manila.
“Prayoridad ko po bilang chairman ng Committee on Health ito pong establishing regional specialty center. Maglalagay po ng mga specialty center sa mga DOH regional hospital sa buong Pilipinas,” said Go previously.
“It’s a multiyear plan po. Halimbawa, kung may problema sa heart, kidney, lung, neonatal, mental, ito pong mga ortho sa mga may karamdaman sa buto, cancer. Ilalagay na po sa lahat ng DOH regional hospital sa buong Pilipinas para ilapit po natin ang serbisyo medikal sa ating mga kababayan,” explained Go.
The establishment of these regional cancer centers is a monumental step in making specialized cancer care more accessible to Filipinos, especially those residing in far-flung areas. Go said that it not only complements the existing CAF but also enhances the overall healthcare infrastructure, making it more responsive to the needs of cancer patients.
Go’s efforts in healthcare have not gone unnoticed. He has received recognition from several organizations, including the Philippine Cancer Society and the Philippine Society of Oncology.
“Ang laban kontra sa kanser ay laban nating lahat. Patuloy tayong magkakaisa upang maabot ang ating pangarap na maging cancer-free ang ating bansa,” Go emphasized.
“With every fund, service, and support we provide, we take a step closer to better and just health for everyone,” he concluded.